Exploring therapy can be a great way for couples to work through or prevent unhealthy patterns in their romance and build a stronger connection.
When a therapist meets with partners, there are often early signs indicating whether or not the relationship is on track to be successful moving forward. These professionals are quickly able to detect hints that come up during therapy sessions, or have been present since the start of the courtship, which signal a romance likely can't endure.
Here are some immediate signs, as told by couples therapists, that a relationship won't be able to last in the long run.
1. "Relationships that don't last often begin with love-bombing (when one person bombards the other with over-the-top attention, gifts, plans for the future). Love-bombers are generally not after genuine attachment; they want ego strokes, arm candy, a nurse with a purse, etc. Once they achieve their goal, they get bored and move on. Another sign is when one person is more invested than the other; they do all the emotional work hoping the person they desire will eventually return their love. Either they finally realize they're giving way more than they're getting, or the other person finds someone they'd rather be with and exits the relationship."
2. "1. When the scales of compromise are persistently imbalanced. You can't change someone, but you can change yourself on behalf of your partner. You can make a change because you know it matters to your partner and because you know your partner does the same for you, and there's an overall sense of balance and fairness. And because when it comes to an issue where one partner has to compromise, the issue gets weighed and resolved based on who it is more important to.
3. "We all put our best foot forward at first, and growth requires some discomfort, but when we are someone completely different to appease the other person — red flag. For example, if you don’t drink but feel like you need to be a sommelier to be accepted, this is a problem.
4. "It is important to note that, although couples who are willing to make a relationship work may be able find solutions and compromises for almost any difference or hardship that comes their way, there are a few signs that indicate that long-term success in a relationship may be a challenge. A few of these signs include: 1. Personal characteristics: A willingness to grow and make changes is a requirement to long-term relationship success. A lack of willingness to grow and a lack of accountability almost always leads to the destruction of a relationship. A partner who is unwilling to change how he/she thinks or perceives things will usually find blame in the other partner, and this may eventually sabotage the relationship.
5. "Couples often show up to therapy with the question, 'Will this relationship last?' Therapists' instinctual response is, anything can work out if you put work into it. However, 'doing the work' is a complex concept and is dependent upon one’s level of self-awareness, as well as the ability and willingness to be curious about one’s partner. Some early signs that a relationship is not going to last are: 1. An imbalance between the couple’s level of self-awareness: When one person in the relationship is able to recognize and admit their role in a conflict and the other is not, the imbalanced dynamic is not sustainable for the person who is more self-aware.
6. "From a sex therapy perspective, I can share that research has indicated that in terms of sexual connection, it is much more likely that a couple will be able to improve their sexual desire and connection if they had strong desire and connection at the beginning of the relationship or at least at some point. Couples who started off with lower sexual interest or connection and consistently have not experienced these things throughout the relationship are unfortunately less likely to be able to create them moving forward.
"Having sexual connection and satisfaction isn't necessarily important to all couples, but if strong sexual desire and connection are important to one or both partners, and they had never experienced the kind of desire and connection they feel is important, that would definitely be something I would encourage the couple to consider when thinking about making long-term plans and commitments with one another."
—Elle Hawkins, LCSW, a sex and relationship therapist, told BuzzFeed
7. "When early in courtship, one or both partners claim they don't necessarily see themselves as monogamous or claim they're open to non-monogamy, but they pursue a monogamous relationship nonetheless, and then, a request for non-monogamy comes later down the line (usually when there's a sexual problem in the relationship like a discrepancy in sexual interest, sexual boredom, a sense of sexual incompatibility), but now the other partner has changed and is adamantly opposed to non-monogamy. In my clinical experience, non-monogamy works, but usually when it's embedded in the relationship from the outset, i.e. there's a shared pursuit of sexual adventure, a non-monogamy agreement is enacted early in the relationship, or partners are already non-monogamous/polyamorous.
8. "I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. It’s hard to pin it down to one thing, but I mostly lose hope when a couple goes through several rapid cycles of 'we need an emergency session today to discuss separation' to 'we are so in love and nothing could be better' over and over.
9. "There is only one indicator that I pay any attention to: one or both partners saying they don’t want to stay together. I’ve had horribly miserable couples come into my office, both of them hopeless, neither having any idea how to find their way out of their morass. Some say they’ve fallen out of love, some say things have occurred that they can never forgive … I truly believe that any two people can work out anything that’s going on between them, if they want to.
10. "After a decade of analyzing data from the Love Lab [research facility], John [Gottman] discovered that one set of variables determined whether a marriage would succeed or fail: Were the couples being positive or negative during the interview? There was very little gray area. Either they emphasized their good times together and minimized the bad times, or they emphasized their bad times together and minimized the good times."
11. "In my practice, I ask couples how they met and how they first fell in love: What I'm looking for is any emotional connection to the loving happy couple they once were. It could be tears, laughter, or even anger at why they aren’t still that couple. What that tells me is if there still is a spark between them, that they remember that they were in love and want to be that couple again. If they can't muster any kind of emotion over their meet-cute story, there's little hope for their future. When someone says that they can’t remember or didn’t like something about their partner at the beginning, I know that the couple isn't likely to last.
12. "Probably one of the likeliest predictors of a couple that will divorce is a destructive fighting style. This means yelling, screaming, not listening to, degrading, and otherwise disrespecting your partner. When a couple walks in to my office that is obviously full of contempt for one another and light up only when the opportunity to 'crush' the other appears, I cringe. I know if they cannot quickly learn how to moderate this horrific behavior, and to not only stop blaming their partner but take responsibility for their own share of dysfunction, this is not a case I want to take on."
Note: Some answers have been lightly edited for length and/or clarity.